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NAB Prohibited from Directly Arresting MPs

NAB Prohibited from Directly Arresting MPs

The federal government, led by the PML-N, has implemented new regulations limiting the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s primary anti-corruption agency, particularly regarding the direct arrest of elected lawmakers.

Under these new regulations, NAB is mandated to inform the Speaker of the National Assembly or the Chairman of the Senate about any complaints filed against elected members. Violation of these directives by NAB officers can result in imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of Rs. 100,000.

A recent meeting between the NAB chairman and NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq resulted in the communication of these new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for handling corruption allegations against politicians to the NAB chief.

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According to the SOPs, NAB must first contact the NA speaker in the case of a complaint against a Member of the National Assembly (MNA), and similarly, approach the Senate chairman for complaints against a senator. Additionally, no member or political leader can be targeted based solely on allegations, and no member of parliament will be subject to arrest during the inquiry stage.

Furthermore, NAB officers are strictly prohibited from making any public statements regarding politicians or elected representatives. Statements will only be issued by NAB officers once a reference is filed against a political or elected leader. Violation of these directives may result in imprisonment ranging from one month to one year, along with a fine of up to Rs100,000.

NAB, established during the tenure of former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, has faced criticism for being used as a tool for victimizing political opponents and engaging in political manipulation. Over recent years, numerous politicians have advocated for reforming or even abolishing the watchdog organization.